Dear Mom,
Hi, It's me, your long lost Vietnam veteran son. I came back in 1968 and you died in 1994.1 still miss you mom. I think of you, in my weird way. I kind of picture 'you as a speck of light just flying and darting up there, all around, visiting with those you loved who are there with you. I think of you as happy, and god knows you deserve to be happy now.

I have something to tell you mom. You remember between 1968 and when you died, well...we had some...well, we never talked about Vietnam. You...all you ever said was that some people thought I was on drugs when I came back because I was so nervous and jumped at everything. You asked me if I was, I told you no, and I guess you accepted that. I dont know because we didn't talk about that anymore either.

I dont know why you never talked about it. I know it wasnt because I didnt give you a chance. I remember every time we got together, the few times, I would bring it up, trying to start a conversation about it. You always changed the subject, something else always caught your attention. After a while I quit trying to talk to you, after our BIG arguement, when you told me you didnt feel like you were the mother of a Vietnam vet.

That shocked and hurt me, we didnt seem to have anything else to say to each other. I guess we didnt know what to say. After that I didnt try to bring the subject up anymore. But you remember I started wearing my ribbons on my jacket? Right up on the collar, in your face with them. You wouldnt know mom, because you were in a coma a week befor you died, but I wore that jacket, with the ribbons, everyday at the hospital, the night you finally died, I was wearing the dam ribbons, right up to the end. I havnt worn the ribbons since that night. Actually, I dont even know where they are now.

As I thought about you and me over the years since you died, and how stupid it was of me...your laying up there dying, your in a comma for gods sake, and Im still running around, saying with my ribbons," look at me mom, Im a veteran, I was in Vietnam". Im sorry rnom, and I appologize. I appologize for making an issue of Vietnam. I let it rob both of us of whatever relationship we could have had. I really regret that.

I guess the funniest part about all of this is, I wouldnt have known what to say if you hacf talked to me. I guess I thought, well...I dont know what I were always the mom, you always knew what to say. I guess for Vietnam, you didnt know what to say, I guess after all those years words never came to you to say something, so you just never said nothing.

Mom, although its true that I didnt know what to say, I did have something to say, I was trying to say I did good mom. I just wanted to say I did hard things over there, I faced the hardest times of my life, I took every hell that place could throw at me, It took everything I had, but I did good and I was still standing. Not because of some sgt. Lt, or Capt, As far as I was concerned, they could have kissed my ass. I was still standing because of you. Considering what I went through, Just to make it through, for me to say I am a Vietnam veteran, Is to Honor you. Thats what I was trying to say all those years. I wasnt a hero, you were, The honor was yours, my sisters', and country.

For me to go through that and still be standing was an honor to you.
I want you to know that I've learned from my mistake with you. It was too much... the loss I feel, the sadness, the stupidity of what I did to us, the regret, our life together was ruined.

I want you to know that Im not gonna let it come between me and my sisters. They still havnt talked either, I doubt they know...I dont think they could say any of my experiences over there. I wish they could know that there brother brought honor to them and I wish they could enjoy that honor, but they dont, and I dont care if we all die that way. I'am not going to force it on them like I tried with you.
Well, thanks mom,

Say hello to everybody for me, I miss you.

I love you,

Your son.

When a clinical therapist works with an individual we use whatever techniques are available that might benefit those we serve.  Letter writing is one technique which can be effective when dealing with  "unfinished business". The letter "Mom" is an example of the technique that was used by a Vietnam veteran in treatment for PTSD. The letter can be shown and reproduced by permission.

Semper Fi,
Martin Patton LCSW
VA Mental Health Service

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